Nerd Journey 029: Internal Conferences

Welcome to episode 29 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss organizational benefits of company meetings.

Original Recording Date: 03-06-2019

Topics – Organizational Benefits to a Company Kickoff

3:53 Why have a company meeting / kickoff?

  • It could be for an internal talent showcase.
    • Take VMware’s RADIO conference for example, which acts as a catalyst for innovation.
      • Getting great people together can inspire new innovation through collaboration.
      • The process of pitching an idea helps people formalize their own thoughts into a concrete advancement (i.e. new products or enhancements to existing products).
  • Company meetings can help communicate vision.
    • We heard top-level executives articulate goals for the company and their high-level strategy to achieve the goals.
    • We then heard regional leaders articulate their values and their strategic vision.
      • These discussions help the front line employees understand where we are going as a company and how to help the company get there.
    • Company meetings are an opportunity to communicate and educate employees on the technical vision.
      • In our case, the technical vision was communicated by a variety of classroom-style enablement sessions. Having these sessions in person was a nice change from remote / recorded training.
      • John chose his enablement sessions with current "big, hairy problems" in mind.
      • Nick had trouble imagining being tasked with coming up with the vision and strategy for an entire company / business unit. This likely comes with a lot of pressure and a lot of work.
  • Company meetings can be a celebration of performance…and an incentive to perform.
    • We were able to see how the top achievers were celebrated.
    • This anchors in people’s minds the desire to be top achievers and to set high goals.
    • We saw incentives declared for teams who achieve big, hairy goals.
    • A great mindset to have is…what can you learn from the top performers to improve yourself?
  • Company meetings can be a way to express and enforce company values.
    • Move from the statement of values to application of values.
    • In our case, it was interesting how often those values were mentioned.
  • In-person company meetings present an opportunity for informal networking.
    • Informal networks are powerful.
    • In a large organization, this is an opportunity for remote teams to come together.
      • This includes managers and could open some doors.
      • John has been interested in management as a career path and had the chance to interview people who have made the decision to be a people manager.
    • In small organizations, executives are more accessible and have more time to develop a personal relationship.
      • Getting everyone together promotes cross-collaboration. Are there ways you could work with people from other teams to make processes better?
    • How much time did John and Nick spend networking this week?
      • John kept his eyes open for future podcast guests, of course.
      • John’s tactics for networking
        • Introduce yourself to the people sitting around you in sessions.
        • Sit at a table of people you don’t know and get to know them.
        • John ran into two podcast subscribers (out of our thousands of listeners)!
      • Nick targeted people he had worked with but never met in person.

37:24 What about organizations that don’t have in-person company meetings or don’t have them at all? What are they giving up?

  • We discussed the advantages of company meetings already.
  • John thinks the biggest disadvantage to not having a company meeting is lack of a clear vision for the company.
    • Asking about the vision is something to do in the interview process.
    • It might not seem troubling to sense a lack of vision if you haven’t been somewhere that it is missing.
  • The company size does not matter.
    • Vision and values need to be communicated to all employees. How often do the values come up?
  • This podcast ended at 1:30 AM Pacific time! Fortunately Nick drank coffee beforehand, and John was sipping Diet Coke.

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